Brooklyn, New York

Now an abandoned railroad corridor under the busy Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, this tunnel was originally constructed in 1844, providing below grade passage for the Long Island Rail Road trains. Considered an engineering achievement for its time, some have claimed it to be the world’s first subway tunnel. 

By the fall of 1861, the tunnel had become obsolete and was shortly thereafter abandoned, its ends sealed and filled.  Since that time, the tunnel has become the object of legend and local folklore, rumored to have sheltered pirates, moonshiners, and spies.  Among these rumors, it also allegedly houses an historic locomotive from the 1830s. Obsolete and old at the time the tunnel ends were filled, the locomotive is said to have brought fill into the tunnel and was left there rather than being scrapped. Other sources, literary references, and one oral account support the notion of the locomotive’s existence. S. Harris Ltd. and a team of consultants are in the process of conducting an archaeological investigation to determine if the rumored locomotive is in fact buried inside the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.

S. Harris Ltd. was selected as a National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant recipient for the investigation and exploration of this tunnel, and has acted as Project Manager and Structural Engineer for the investigation and excavation work.  This project will be shared with a global audience as a documentary film upon completion of the project in the spring of 2011.

National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant